Android has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to launchers though some have managed to rise above the rest because of their features and polish. One that has made a lasting impression on us in our earlier comparison test is Action Launcher, which has just reached that iconic 2.0 version, with an interesting new feature and a free download to boot.
One thing that could probably describe the philosophy behind Action Launcher is that it tries to give users quick access to features with as little taps or swipes as possible. Quicksearch lets you search apps, contacts, and others from the action bar, without having to open up a dedicated search app or tool. Covers and Shutters redefine how folder shortcuts work, letting users launch an app, open a folder, or display the app's widget with a single tap or swipe gesture. Action Launcher also eschews the traditional app drawer convention and instead offers Quickdrawer, which presents an apps and widgets panel on the left that only covers part of the homescreen.
As demonstrated in a previous teaser, this latest version Action Launcher takes this element of quickness to the next level with two important features. Quickpage is somewhat like Quickdrawer, except that it slides from the right of the screen and that it practically functions as an extra homescreen where you can place widgets, shortcuts, covers, and shutters. But what makes it and Quickdrawer shine is 1-Swipe, a feature that lets users bring up Quickdrawer or Quickpage by swiping from the appropriate side within any app or page that is displayed. It even works when using a different launcher. It should be noted, however, that both 1-Swipe and Quickpage are marked as still in Beta. There are other new features as well, such as the addition of translucent bars for those running Android 4.4. These changes, as well as bug fixes, can be found in the release notes here. Here's the rundown of some of the new features of Action Launcher 2.0.
Those who haven't been able to try out Action Launcher because of the price can now do so as developer Chris Lacy has provided a limited free version for that purpose. The paid pro version still remains for those who want to unlock the launcher's full potential and also support development efforts. In celebration of the 2.0 release, Action Launcher Pro is available at $1.99, a 50% discount, for a limited time only.